How I Fixed my Big Green Egg Pizza Underbite Problem

The Problem:

I have a Large BGE that I like to make pizza with.

The official recommended temperature for the making pizza on the Big Green Egg is a little low in my opinion. Yes, I'm sure you can make delicious pizza at around 450 degrees, but I prefer 750.

The Big Green Egg is so versatile; why not use it as a mini Italian forno!

3 half-bricks raise a 15" pizza stone into the "sweet spot"

3 half-bricks raise a 15" pizza stone into the "sweet spot"

The gaskets that come with the egg these days can handle the heat, but unfortunately, the bands that support the weight of the opened dome cannot. They are good for the first couple of pizzas, but after that, no matter how tight you make it, the lower band starts to slip downward at the rear.

This slipping is the cause of the dreaded "pizza underbite" problem. When this happens the dome will not close properly and the lower gasket protrudes out at the front of the egg.

At 750 degrees, with a raging inferno inside, this is... not convenient.

The Solution:

Drill, baby, drill!

The lower band resting on two newly installed bolts

The lower band resting on two newly installed bolts

A side view for one of two newly installed bolts (click for full image)

A side view for one of two newly installed bolts (click for full image)

Disclaimer:

Caveat:

I've only recently made this "mod" to my egg. It has not been used very many times since (probably 4 low temp and two high temp cooks at the time of this writing). Presently, I consider it to be an experiment (that is going well so far). If you do this now, you are joining me in the experiment. Check back in a couple of years and I'll update this section with a status report.

Supplies:

Procedure:

Ensure that your lower band is adjusted to the proper height on your egg. The dome "underbite" problem is caused by the lower band slipping down when the egg is very hot for a long time. If yours is low now, fix that...

With the lower band adjusted properly, place some blue removable painter's tape under the rear band at the back of the egg so that the top of the tape indicates where the bottom of the band is. The upper half of the tape will not be affixed to the ceramic (attach to the ceramic "ring" just below the bands).

Loosen the bands. Use a zip tie to hold the bands closed at the front (near the wooden handle) or they can fly open and hurt you. Now remove the dome and the bands.

Snuggly tie a piece of string around the top circumference of the egg.

Remove the string and hold it by the knot. Mark the other end of the loop with a sharpie marker (or other felt tip pen).

Replace the string on the egg with the knot under the divot that marks the front of the egg. Our pen mark now indicates the opposite side (center/rear) of the egg.

Mark that on the painter's tape (see photo), and remove the string.

The first piece of blue tape with the center mark

The first piece of blue tape with the center mark

Add more painter's tape above and below to facilitate measurement and marking. Try to keep the upper piece of tape in line with where the bottom of the band was (the next photo shows a gap but that's only because the camera is looking slightly downward). The lower piece of tape is in line with the upper side of the ceramic ring (no tape floating above the ring this time).

Measure 2 inches on either side of the center mark and draw vertical lines on the lower tape. Our holes will be above those lines...

Now notice that the ceramic ring that surrounds the top part of the egg has a smooth curve that transitions from the smaller upper diameter at the top of the egg to the larger lower diameter of the ceramic ring.

Right where that transition starts is a measuring point...

Using a thin ruler that can lay flat against the ceramic (I used a short metal drafting ruler), measure from the start of the transition to the bottom of where the band was (now marked by the bottom edge of the upper piece of blue tape).

For me, this measured 5/16". So I measured half that distance (5/32") up from the transition point to make my drill marks.

The idea is to drill in the middle of the available vertical flat surface that is above the ceramic band and below the steal band.

There is not a lot of room for error here!

The marked drill points (two black dots on the green ceramic glaze)

The marked drill points (two black dots on the green ceramic glaze)

Remove the painter's tape (we are ready to drill).

On a side note...

My egg came with a deformed ceramic cap. It was hard to get on, did not seal properly and would get stuck when it cooled so it was also hard to get off. I got a new one and practiced drilling holes in the old one. I recommend that you figure out a way to get some practice yourself. But in case you don't, I describe the best drilling technique below...

Protect your eyes and lungs when drilling. Wear protective eye wear and a breathing mask.

Place painter's tape on the inside of the egg to cover what will be the exit spot of the drill hole. This will help prevent ceramic "blow out" when the drill goes through the far end of the hole. This potential chipping problem at the exit hole is also greatly mitigated by having a well seasoned egg that has a sticky smoke layer on the inside. Additionally, be careful to not apply too much pressure to the drill when exiting. Do not drill from the inside to the outside as the ceramic glaze chips badly when the drill exits through the glazed side.

Happily, the ceramic glaze on the outside makes it very easy to start your hole. I found that using my variable speed drill (trigger controlled) at a very slow speed (one turn per second), I could create a starter notch with great precision (see photo).

The starter notch on one of the drill points (height is what matters here)

The starter notch on one of the drill points (height is what matters here)

After prepping the front and back, execute the actual drilling maneuver with a steady hand and fairly low pressure. Stay slow until all of the glaze has been removed. You can increase speed a bit after that, but high speed is not required and increases the chance of chipping on exit. Try your best to not "ream" the hole in any way. Do not pass the drill in and out or apply any side pressure. Make a single pass all the way through, stop the drill and then carefully remove it. The idea here is to keep the hole as tight as possible so that the bolt will not wiggle in the hole. Wiggling is the enemy as the ceramic is brittle and will not tolerate it...

You can see in the photos that show the holes I made that I had fairly minimal chipping at both the entry and exit points.

The drill holes from the inside

The drill holes from the inside

The drill holes from the outside

The drill holes from the outside

Blow out as much dust as possible from both sides (I uses some canned air).

Carefully verify that the bolt can be slid through the hole. If there's a little resistance that's good! Once tested, remove it. Note that the bolt I'm using is a "shoulder bolt", which means that it has a long smooth body. This is important as the threads of a standard bolt would create more wear on the inner walls of our hole...

Knead (mix) your tube of high temp cement and open it. Squirt some out on a paper towel to make sure you have a nice consistency (mine had separated a bit).

Generously wet the inside of the hole with water using a Q-tip.

Generously apply the cement to the inside of the hole using a toothpick. I mashed the cement into the walls of the hole by pushing it in all directions with the toothpick. There is no need to apply any cement outside the hole (unless you had chipping when drilling, in which case you can use the cement to fill in the divots).

Place a small washer on a bolt and push the bolt through the hole from the inside to the outside. This will push all of the excess cement out of the hole leaving just a little to snug the fit of the bolt.

Wipe the excess cement off the protruding end of the bolt being extra careful to clean the threads. Try not to wiggle the bolt. Place a nut on the bolt. Do not touch the bolt again for 24 hours...

The pictures below show the bolts installed while waiting for the cement to dry.

The bolts installed from the inside

The bolts installed from the inside

The bolts installed from the outside

The bolts installed from the outside

On the next day, with the bolts still in place, install the lower band. Try not to wiggle the bolts when doing this. I installed my lower band 1/32 of an inch higher than normal so as not to apply any force to the bolts (they will slip down onto the new support system at high temperature). Tighten the bands as you normally would.

Now remove the nuts from the bolts and add a large and then a small washer to each. Lightly snug the acorn nuts back onto the bolts. There's no need to crank on this as that may put pressure on the inside walls and making this tight does not add any extra support for the band.

You may notice that the bolt can spin inside the hole. This is fine as the bolt is too smooth for the cement to stick to it. The job of the cement is to snug the fit of the bolt and protect the hole, not to "glue" the bolt.

Now do a cement "curing" cook (follow the directions on the tube) with the plate setter inside the egg. The plate setter directs more heat to the band. The idea here is to cure the cement without ever opening the dome (do not put force on the bolts until the cement is cured!).

On the next day, make pizza! The band will slip down onto the newly installed supports and your egg will never have pizza underbite again.

During the cook, I tightened my lower band's fastening nut a little more (not much) once things got hot because the band is still the primary support system for the opened dome. The new support bolts merely prevent slippage in the rear. Once the lower band has settled in, after cool down, you may need to adjust the upper band a final time...

Here are some more pics:

Another view of the bolts installed

Another view of the bolts installed

The band positioning looks good

The band positioning looks good

Just about done...

Just about done...